After having invested millions of dollars into the International Space Station (ISS) and retiring the Space Shuttle, NASA and the U.S. are in the rare position of not having an operational human space lift program to reach the ISS or any location in space. This is truly an unusual time period in the history of NASA manned spaceflight. This thesis addresses the human spaceflight, Up Mass (launch a payload into space), and Down Mass (return payload from space) capabilities of the U.S. Space Shuttle and assesses options to regain these capabilities now that the Space Shuttle is retired. The research in this thesis was done with unclassified and public-domain information and was used to evaluate and propose options for mitigating the capability gaps left by the end of the United States Space Shuttle program. No current or planned system can fulfill all the capabilities that the Space Shuttle was able to provide. However, there are current/future domestic and foreign systems that can or will address these capabilities individually.
Space Systems Operations
Naval Postgraduate School
Master of Science in Space Systems Operations
Space Systems Academic Group
Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited
This publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. As such, it is in the public domain, and under the provisions of Title 17, United States Code, Section 105, may not be copyrighted.